When I was 18, I graduated high school, and had my eyes set on becoming an engineer. I was certain that I wanted to help people by rebuilding crumbling infrastructure around the world. When I was a sophomore at Calvin College, I realized Civil Engineering was not for me. Honestly, I hated it. I switched majors to Social Work still with the consistent underlying desire to help others. I felt God pushing me somewhere and I had no idea where. Immediately after switching degrees, I saw a Facebook post from someone I would describe as barely an acquaintance saying SpringHill was a wonderful place, and people (I) should sign up to work there. Now, I had no idea this is what God wanted me to do. I wish I could say I did, but no, I just signed up because it looked like fun. God had other plans, God was at work to grow my faith and my character.Continue Reading
Over the past five summers, I have served in a number of roles with SpringHill – as a Day Camps counselor, area director, assistant director, and site coordinator. I would say I've had an extensive and well-rounded SpringHill experience. In addition to working with kids in Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois, helping them to learn about their God and grow in their faith, I learned a lot about my own faith, my relationships with others, and my calling. Here are just a few of the more important lessons I've learned.Continue Reading
My first summer at Springhill was everything; I woke up each morning amazed that God had chosen me to work at a place where I got to share the love of Christ openly, worship every day, and provide a safe space for kids to come, ask questions, and begin to take ownership of their faith. It was an unbelievably beautiful, exhausting, joy-filled summer.
Fast forward to a few months later and I was stuck between a rock and a hard place. I felt called to come back to SpringHill - my spirit was so secure in where God wanted me and what He wanted me to be doing, but I was turned down for the job. Uncertainty rocked my world; why had God given me so much confidence in applying, if that wasn't where He wanted me? I decided to try to learn contentment. I accepted, after many tears and many hours of talking at God, that I must have misunderstood His plan for me. It was a season without clarity, and it was hard.Continue Reading
I had spent a long time trying to decide if returning to Springhill for a second summer was something I wanted to do, I prayed a lot about it and it seemed that every other opportunity ended back at Springhill. I was a lifeguard last year at Michigan Overnight and I knew I wanted to try a new position, so I figured that a middle school counselor would be something more challenging for me. When I arrived, I went to all the training sessions, which meant that camp was starting and everything was real, yet I had this weird feeling I wasn't going to be a counselor. I brushed it off because the feeling made no sense to me, what else would I be?
A couple days into training, I was talking to Matt Hildebrand, a director at Springhill, and I told him that I was going into my senior year of nursing school. At the time I vowed that my summers were for fun and no nursing was allowed because 1. I am going to do it for the rest of my life and 2. My entire school year is devoted to countless hours of nursing and I needed a break.Continue Reading
I love spring hill because it forces you to socialize with people. We don't have our phones, so our only source of communication is the people that are in the same cabin as us. It's so refreshing to be able to have real conversations without worrying about looking through my Instagram feed or if the person I'm talking to has more followers than I do, because at SpringHill it doesn't matter.
You have the chance to meet some amazing people at SpringHill who will become your best friends for that week. They have similar stories and are in similar places that you are with your faith. I've met one of my best friends there who I'm still constantly texting and Face Timing, and I will have the opportunity to see her again at camp this year.Continue Reading
As I head into week 7 at camp, I am starting to realize how quickly the summer has gone by. When I look back at my experience thus far, I can honestly say that this is the best summer I can remember. As I have mentioned in previous blogs, I have had the privilege of not only sharing the Gospel with kids, but I've grown as a leader and in my own relationship with Christ. There's also one other big reason that this has been the best summer – Camp is SO much fun!
I know that's sort of a given. And yes, being a Summer Leader is work and it's tiring, but I can honestly say that I thank God for the fun he gives my campers and I every day. We get to zip line, ride horses, play paintball, blob, slide, run, dance, go crazy, and the list goes on. Being a Summer Leader at SpringHill brings out the kid in me and has been an amazing break from the demands and distractions of the "real world." The campers I've had this summer have taught me how much fun it is to just be a kid.Continue Reading
Every fall and spring semester, Purdue, along with many other universities, have career fairs full of businesses and corporations searching for college students to intern with them over the summer. Students want career experience and an internship is the most traditional way of obtaining that and the "most obvious" way to prepare for the workforce as soon as we graduate.
I am a junior at Purdue with a major in marketing, so naturally I decided to work as a camp counselor at SpringHill... Before you call me crazy or tell me that I should have taken a more traditional route, there really are aspects of being a Summer Leader that will help me in my career field.Continue Reading
We are a few weeks into camp, and it has been evident that God has shown up. It's been amazing to watch campers grow in their relationship with Christ right in front of my eyes, even though I only have them for a week. I've seen middle school guys learn the importance of worship, encouragement of others, and how to become closer to God each day without becoming stagnant in their faith. Every counselor I've talked to has a different incredible story of how one of their campers had a life changing experience where they could feel the Holy Spirit moving.
One aspect of camp that has stood out to me so far is the importance of having a good attitude. Being a Summer Leader at SpringHill is a satisfying, fun job, but I'd be lying to you if I said it wasn't tough. The campground here at the Indiana location is fairly spread out, meaning we walk most everywhere we need to go. It's hot, we're all tired, and everyone is anxious to get to our next activity. But what I'm learning is that a positive attitude from just one camper or Leader can change everything.Continue Reading
As a father of four children, believe me when I say that I know parents have many priorities and goals for their kids. My wife Denise and I certainly do. But I also know as our kids grew up, there was only one priority that always made it to the top. – Their safety and wellbeing.
As the leader of a growing organization I also understand that places like SpringHill have many priorities. Sometimes organizations do not always have clarity about which priority is actually the most important one, the one that comes before all others. But at SpringHill, like you as a parent, we (every one of our board members, staff and volunteers) are crystal clear about our top priority. We know and are committed to the one thing that supersedes them all.Continue Reading
When it comes to raising your kids, mistakes will be made, victories will be celebrated, tears will be shed and laughter will be contagious. You take each moment as it comes and treasure the time spent with your little ones while they're still at home.
But what happens when they venture out into a world that will throw temptations in their path with each step they take? A world that won't celebrate their steadfastness, but will instead try to test it?
Bringing up your kids in a Christian environment means preparing them for a world that isn't so Christ-focused. But that's easier said than done, right? Just bringing your family to church each week doesn't ensure they will have the right foundation to make it in this world.
So what does it take to prepare your kids through a solid, Christian foundation? Is it just about having family Bible time, or does it go deeper than that?Continue Reading
My oldest son is turning 16 this summer and the scariest part isn't that he'll start driving. The scary part is the reality that's slowly sinking in that in just two more years he will be headed off to college. Moving out. Becoming independent.
When they're little, they seem to grow up fast: learning how to smile, then crawl, a few words, walking. But at this age, the new milestones just fly by. And the realization that they really won't be at home forever has me thinking about the time we do have a little differently.Continue Reading
This video was recently released by the Christian Camp and Conference Association and it shows some of the challenges kids are faced with in today's world. Technology, peer pressure, self doubt, depression - All things that bog kids down and force them to grow up too quickly. At SpringHill, we believe in the Power of Camp and we believe that kids should have the chance to BE KIDS. To play, learn, grow, be mentored, poured into and recharged. To experience God in nature, community, activities, prayer and worship.We know lives have been changed and we know there are thousands of stories out there just waiting to be told. So share your story with us! Continue Reading
Summer is so close we can taste it! Check out our latest Day Camp experience video to see what really happens during a week of faith, fun and friends at SpringHill!
Excited? Tell us why with a comment.
Still need to register? Do that here.
Want to share with a friend? Please do!
Also check out our Overnight Experience video - It’s as great as this one!
As the 2015 summer season quickly approaches, we had to share our latest Overnight Camp Experience video with you.
This is what your kids have to look forward to!Continue Reading
Kids love superheroes.
They think of them as strong, confident and physically fit. And they tend to rank right up there with professional athletes, firefighters, and the president, when kids are asked what they want to be when they grow up. In fact, a recent Cornell University study even showed that when kids associate healthy foods and behaviors with what a superhero would eat or do, their own behaviors change too! Yes, when kids associate healthy food with superheroes, they actually choose apples over French fries.
And that's why I'm so excited about integrating our summer theme, Superheroes!, into each of our family camps this summer: we'll inspire kids of all ages to want to live differently because of the choices they see superheroes making, and the behaviors they see modeled by the people they look up to the most.Continue Reading
This summer, SpringHill will welcome superheroes to the stage as our new theme kicks off for 2015! Our staff cannot wait to share the excitement of new facilities, new directors and new locations with your campers.
After the recent hire of five full-time directors, the team at SpringHill’s Indiana Overnight location is gearing up for an exciting summer with new curriculum and programming for each camp center.
With the addition of our new directors, our teams are focusing on training up leaders and multiplying followers for Christ. This focus, along with the new programs we are writing, enables our staff to pour into your campers in such a way that they will leave camp having a better understanding of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.
As Winter Teen Retreats come to a close, the team at Michigan Overnight is prepping for a summer that includes multiple completed projects for our Storybrook and Copper Country camp centers.
This summer, Copper Country campers will have a new waterfront that includes brand new party barge activities. Thanks to camper funds from our trading post, this was a fully-funded project!
Copper Country isn’t the only place where campers will enjoy new facilities. This summer, Storybrook will open a transformed dining hall that will now serve as an air-conditioned, multi-purpose space with a full stage that includes audio and video equipment. This renovation will provide your campers with an improved programming experience!
Our Day Camps team is working around the clock to continue growing this ministry into one that can provide your campers with a life-impacting experience.
Not only did we welcome five new directors to our Day Camps team, but we also will be hosting a new week of day camps in Iowa and Kentucky! Excitement continues to grow for our Day Camps teams as the number of church partners continually increases.
With all the exciting changes and new staff now on board, get your camper ready for an awesome summer at SpringHill! Register Today!
How to overcome the distractions and turn your thoughts to God
Returning to routine after the craziness of the New Year can make life feel normal again. However, schedules quickly fill with the kids’ sports games, church functions and enough work from the office to keep you busy all evening.
Suddenly, you barely have time to catch your breath.
Falling into a routine of busyness can leave you feeling stressed and pulled in a hundred different directions. When frustration and exhaustion take over during this season, how do you search for the blessings each day?
Finding blessings in the midst of balancing everything on the schedule can almost feel like another task on the to do list. Today’s society screams instant gratification and throws guilt our way when we try to relax from work. It can feel as if the busyness of each day holds nothing but assignments to complete and no time to even think about anything else.
Blessings, however, come in all different forms. Sometimes you don’t have to search for them, you just have to be willing to look in the right direction.
God is always providing ways for you to feel refreshed. Don’t allow life to get so busy that you miss out on these blessings. The busyness we endure not only distracts us from our families, friends, church community and neighborhood, but it ultimately distracts us from our relationship with Jesus.
Starting today, make it a point to find the blessings in your life. When stress takes over, step back, take a breath and turn your thoughts to Christ, the only one who can bring you through this season of busyness.
With school out for the summer, days easily fill with the pool, neighborhood sports tournaments and lazy afternoons in front of the TV. For the kids, this time simply means vacation. As a parent, this time holds more importance than simply time out of the classroom.
Choosing a summer experience for your child isn’t a decision to be taken lightly. You know the importance of making sure each day fills with the right balance of fun and challenge that will encourage growth during this season.
After sitting in classrooms all day during the school year, summer is the time for kids to drink in some sunshine. Thankfully, there are plenty of summer activities to choose from that help kids get their energy out in a constructive way.
You know your child best. Finding the right activity that will help your child thrive this summer means thinking about what your child needs and what will provide the best experience. While there are options that last all summer, going to camp for a week could be the perfect choice for you.
Summer camp provides a wonderful balance of activity, learning, fellowship and independence for campers. During a week at camp, kids experience life-changing lessons as they learn new skills and form bonds with other campers and their counselors.
No matter the age, kids can face issues of confidence and identity at school. When they arrive at camp, the competition and need to impress disappears as the focus becomes new friends, fun activities and personal growth.
At SpringHill , we train our staff to not only keep a safe environment for and have fun with your kids, but we also train up leaders who will guide campers into a deeper relationship with Christ. After a week at SpringHill , your camper will come home with a greater understanding of who Jesus is.
Don’t wait until school is out before you make your summer selection! Take time this week to talk with your child and decide what experience is the best choice. If that decision includes summer camp, check out your options at SpringHill. We offer partial weeks so even if your child is required to attend an academic program or is committed to a sport, your family can still experience SpringHill if only for a few days out of the week.
With summer approaching faster than you can keep up with, thoughts of organization fly out the window as your calendar clutters with all possible appointments, play dates for the kids and vacations.
Unfortunately, the excitement of summer gives way to stress as your schedule grows overwhelming. How do you keep up with the plans and the continually changing appointments and family schedules?
Planning out your summer doesn’t need to feel stressful. If you stay ahead of the game with these tips, your schedule won’t appear as daunting to deal with.
You can’t plan for everything, but we hope that these simple tips will help you spend less time coordinating baseball games and swimming lessons, and more time spent with family and friends enjoying the summer season.
Find out more about family camps and other opportunities for the whole crew this summer.
This spring at our Memorial Day Family Camp, Jeffrey Dean mentioned two keys to great parenting: being approachable and being unshockable. As today’s guest blogger, Jeffrey takes a closer look at the need for approachable parents.
Have you heard of the Guinea worm disease? The Guinea worm is one of the largest human parasites. People get infected when they drink or swim in parasite-filled waters and unknowingly ingest the larvae of Guinea worms. In about a year, the worms pierce the intestinal wall, grow to adulthood, and mate. The worms eventually mature to a length of as much as three feet. They make their way through the body to the surface of the skin causing swelling and burning blisters.
Here’s where the problem intensifies: To soothe the burning, an infected person often runs to local water sources and immerses his or her infected limbs into the water for relief. Unfortunately this is exactly what the female (males die off inside the body) Guinea worm wants: access to water. Once in water, she lays hundreds of thousands of more eggs. And the cycle continues.
In many ways this horrific process is one that is repeated over and again in the spiritual lives of teens everywhere. In their search for relief from life’s “diseases,” countless teens run to the infected waters of the world: drinking, drugs, cutting, sex, partying, binging, porn, and more. In the moment their choices may appear as soothing and innocent as the local waters appear to those infected by the Guinea worm. But below the surface lies a raging and burning consequence that will never satisfy and will only leave them desperate for more.
I met a teen named Katie at a conference I spoke at. She sent me an e-mail detailing poor choice after poor choice in her life, each one compounding her troubles, but none of them bringing resolution. She finished, “What am I supposed to do? Help.” I wish I could say that Katie’s was an isolated story. She picked the wrong goal, then in an attempt to heal her hurts, she hastily jumped into other relationships, only to continue the same mistakes again and again. I hear from countless teens just like Katie from across the country. The specifics of their stories are different, but inside all are seeking help from the “diseases” of the world, and many are jumping into infected waters.
As a parent who loves God, it’s important for you to guide your teen to real safety. I’m convinced that Christian teens are desperate to be taught how to stand for what is right. But many aren’t sure how to do so. They need help, and, often want our help as influencers in their lives. However, many feel as though a parent is unapproachable when it comes to the big struggles of the teen life.
There is a war being waged daily for your teen’s soul, and the consequences can be deadly. But there is hope. Ephesians 6:10 encourages us to “be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.” The Bible gives us tools for suiting up in armor, taking up shields of faith, and holding firm the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. Your teen needs you to suit-up for battle. Your teen can’t find alone.
Work to create an environment in your home that screams to your teen, “I am approachable.” Strive to help your teen see that, unlike the infected waters of this world, you offer a safe place of help, hope wisdom and support that will never fail!
Parents: What are some ways that you help your teenage kids see you as approachable?
Contributed by Carey Edgren - Indiana Overnight Director
As a parent, I find myself thinking a lot about the safety of my children. From baby-proofing the house with cabinet latches and plug covers, to choosing a safe and reliable car, and being aware of who they interact with at church and school and in the community.
So, as Summer Camp gets ready to kick off this week in Indiana and at Day Camps locations across the Midwest, and next week in Michigan, I realized I’m also helping a lot of other parents think through the same issues of safety as they send their kids to summer camp.
“What does SpringHill do to provide safety for campers?”
The question of safety is very broad and can be broken into categories of emotional, physical, mental and spiritual safety, and we know that the safety of their children is often the number one concern for parents. The truth is, it is for us at SpringHill, too. We know that we cannot accomplish our mission if we are not first providing a safe environment for all kids.
Here are some processes we have in place and how they address these areas:
Our first line of defense is our extremely low camper to staff ratio. Typically, for every 2 or 3 campers there is one staff member on site. This allows us to demand of our staff that no camper is ever left alone. I contrast this with my experience as a camper at a camp in New York where there was 3 hours a day when we were “free” to do as we wished. During those three hours we saw no staff members, and our counselor did not even stay in the same cabin at night with us. By lowering our ratios and increasing our expectations we instantly lower our campers’ risk in all areas.
We address the area of physical safety with a multi-tiered approach. On the ground level, all of our staff is trained in basic first aid and illness awareness. They are able to respond to minor issues as well as spot potential sicknesses that campers tend to hide. In addition, all leadership staff are trained and certified by the Red Cross or American Heart Association in First Aid and CPR. This means that about a quarter of staff have this training and are always spread out around camp. Finally, our Health Services staff are top notch college students majoring in health sciences (most seeking nursing degrees) as well as volunteer Registered Nurses and physicians, and an on-call doctor who also makes regular visits to camp.
Because of the nature of camp, the environment and activities present some inherent risk, however, we take a number of steps to reduce the risk and keep kids safe. Our High Adventure activities are all inspected annually at the opening of the season to ensure they are safe for usage by an outside authority,Experiential Systems Inc. Our trained staff also inspect all of the activities and equipment we use on a daily basis. All activities that are done on or in the water require a lifejacket, and our lifeguards are fully trained and certified by the Red Cross. There are many rigorous standards we must meet in order to have Red Cross lifeguards, ESI Certified High Adventure areas as well as to maintain accreditation by the American Camping Association. If you would like more information about these standards please check out the ACA’s website.
Obviously this is just a snapshot of a much larger, and more intricate system with which we strive to ensure the safety of every camper. We are constantly looking to improve and grow in all areas of our camp, however this area receives consistent attention. We truly view the safety of campers as part of our mission and imperative in being able to present the message of Christ.
Contributed by Eileen Zilch - Director of IT
It is possible to raise great kids—they are the result of the intentional parenting focused on instilling mature character.
You have likely met someone with a “character flaw,” where one or more aspects of character were not learned in childhood and have become a burden to them in adulthood. But it is possible to raise great kids—they are the result of the intentional parenting focused on instilling mature character.
In their book, Raising Great Kids, Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend identify six key character traits which produce mature character and enable kids to deal with life as God designed them to.
Each of these traits is an attribute of God’s character, and while this list isn’t exhaustive, it is certainly representative of the kind of character development that is important for children. As parents, we need to be intentional about developing character in our children, and at SpringHill, our goal is to come along side parents in helping to develop Godly character in kids. The first two aspects of character are described below.
God attaches and loves (John 3:16).
The most basic and important character ability is the ability to form relationships. Attachment to God and to others is the source of all good things. When your child falls down and skins her knee, your comfort helps her to experience and learn the value of reaching out.
Kids who are emotionally connected in healthy ways are more secure. They delay gratification. They respond to discipline. They deal with failure. They make good moral decisions. You cannot lose by developing your child’s ability to attach and relate.
At SpringHill, we develop relationships in the context of small cabin groups or teams. Counselors are role models and friends for their campers, encouraging them to form relationships with each other and to seek or deepen a personal relationship with the Lord.
God takes responsible ownership of His life (Psalm 64:9).
Your child is born thinking his life is your problem. During the beginning of life, this is true. But part of growing character is helping him take ownership over his life and seeing his life as his problem. As he takes responsibility over his choices, he gradually experiences freedom and self-control.
The primary function of responsibility is to put love into action. We were created to develop love by performing the good works that God prepared for us (Ephesians 2:10). Relationship is the reason for existence. Responsibility is the means to bring about and protect relationship.
At camp, kids have the opportunity to learn about responsibility and “experiment” with freedom in a safe and caring environment. For some kids, it is heady stuff to be in a place where Mom and Dad don’t set the rules. With counselors to ensure their physical and emotional safety, they can explore what it means to have fun and be responsible at the same time.
We'd love to hear how your experience at SpringHill has impacted your life. Whether it was an experience from this past summer or you're reflecting back on years ago we always encourage sharing of how God is working through SpringHill.